Fun City

John Lindsay, Joe Namath, and How Sports Saved New York in the 1960s

About The Book

On January 1, 1966, New York came to a standstill as the city’s transit workers went on strike. This was the first day on the job for Mayor John Lindsay—a handsome, young former congressman with presidential aspirations—and he would approach the issue with an unconventional outlook that would be his hallmark. He ignored the cold and walked four miles, famously declaring, “I still think it is a fun city.”

As profound social, racial, and cultural change sank the city into repeated crises, critics lampooned Lindsay’s “fun city.” Yet for all the hard times the city endured during and after his tenure as mayor, there was indeed fun to be had. Against this backdrop, too, the sporting scene saw tremendous upheaval.

On one hand, the venerable Yankees—who had won 15 pennants in an 18-year span before 1965—and the NFL’s powerhouse Giants suddenly went into a level of decline neither had known for generations, as stars like Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford on the diamond and Y.A. Tittle on the gridiron aged quickly. But on the other, the fall of the city’s sports behemoths was accompanied by the rise of anti-establishment outsiders—there were Joe Namath and the Jets, as well as the shocking triumph of the Amazin’ Mets, who won the 1969 World Series after spending the franchise’s first eight seasons in the cellar. Meanwhile, the city’s two overlooked franchises, the Knicks and Rangers, also had breakthroughs, bringing new life to Madison Square Garden.

The overlap of these two worlds in the 1960s—Lindsay’s politics and the reemerging sports landscape—serves as the backbone of Fun City. In the vein of Ladies and Gentlemen: The Bronx is Burning, the book tells the story of a remarkable and thrilling time in New York sports against the backdrop of a remarkable and often difficult time for the city, culturally and socially.

The late sixties was an era in which New York toughened up in a lot of ways; it also was an era in which a changing of the guard among New York pro teams led the way in making it a truly fun city.

About The Author

Sean Deveney has been a writer and editor at Sporting News since 1999, covering all aspects of sports. He has authored four books, including The Original Curse, Facing Ted Williams, and Before Wrigley Became Wrigley.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Sports Publishing (October 6, 2015)
  • Length: 376 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781613218594
  • Ages: 12 - 99

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Raves and Reviews

“Rollicking…Led by the hedonistic slinger Joe Namath, the Jets shocked the football world with their Super Bowl III upset of the Baltimore Colts in 1969. That autumn, the once-risible Mets won the World Series. The Knicks capped off one of the greatest sports seasons any city had ever enjoyed when they took the N.B.A. title the following spring.”--New York Times Book Review

“Deveney . . . recaptures the era’s lunatic euphoria and unpredictable political impact in Fun City.” --Sam Roberts,New York Times

“This impressively researched history serves as a vivid portrait of the two men’s valiant, if fruitless, quest for greatness in a perpetually unforgiving city.”—Publishers Weekly

“Vividly chronicling the social, racial, and political upheaval of New York City in the 1960s, Deveney . . . traces the intersecting rise of the Jets (football), Mets (baseball), and the Knicks (basketball) over New York’s “establishment” teams: the Giants (football) and the Yankees (baseball). . . . This dense, objective, unflinching, and thorough narrative doesn’t just paint a picture of New York in the 1960s. The work is steeped in the headlines. . . . [F]ans of New York sports teams will feel viscerally transported.” –Library Journal

“Deveney combines his two big subjects neatly. . . . [T]here is plenty here of interest to sports fans and followers of urban politics.” --–Booklist

“Rollicking…Led by the hedonistic slinger Joe Namath, the Jets shocked the football world with their Super Bowl III upset of the Baltimore Colts in 1969. That autumn, the once-risible Mets won the World Series. The Knicks capped off one of the greatest sports seasons any city had ever enjoyed when they took the N.B.A. title the following spring.”--New York Times Book Review

“Deveney . . . recaptures the era’s lunatic euphoria and unpredictable political impact in Fun City.” --Sam Roberts,New York Times

“This impressively researched history serves as a vivid portrait of the two men’s valiant, if fruitless, quest for greatness in a perpetually unforgiving city.”—Publishers Weekly

“Vividly chronicling the social, racial, and political upheaval of New York City in the 1960s, Deveney . . . traces the intersecting rise of the Jets (football), Mets (baseball), and the Knicks (basketball) over New York’s “establishment” teams: the Giants (football) and the Yankees (baseball). . . . This dense, objective, unflinching, and thorough narrative doesn’t just paint a picture of New York in the 1960s. The work is steeped in the headlines. . . . [F]ans of New York sports teams will feel viscerally transported.” –Library Journal

“Deveney combines his two big subjects neatly. . . . [T]here is plenty here of interest to sports fans and followers of urban politics.” --–Booklist

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